Sunday, December 19, 2021

Glad Tidings of Christmastime ~ A Story for Young and Old

All across the mantel were pine greens and cones and red bows.
The bows were not velvet as seen in some of the more affluent homes but were made with more love and cheer than most of the velvet ones.  These bows however, were of a simple 
cotton and heavily starched so they looked crisp and bright.
To one side of the fireplace was a wood-box freshly piled
with split wood for warmth through the night 
and for the morning water pot.
That's the same wood box where little toes perched
in order to reach the nail where a little stocking was hung.
Next to that little stocking was a slightly larger one,
but no perch was needed to hang it.
And between those two stockings, there was a happy feeling 
that wasn't there the day before.
To know what brought that happy feeling about,
we must back up to the day before.
That little stocking usually warms the foot of a little girl
named Alice who has all of 6 years to her name.
The larger of the two stockings is that of her brother Billy
who is a very grown up 8 years old.
Billy had worked hard all year trying to save
 for a cake with white sugar and icing on it.
He was studious but had a sweet tooth and been saving all year
so that he might buy a ten-penny treat.
As hard as he worked, he was but able to save 7 pennies.
He was just a boy after all and those willing to pay a child 
for his labor were few.
The day before Christmas with scorn in his heart for himself and the disappointment of not having a ten penny treat by Christmas
as he had planed, Billy sat on the front step in the cold feeling sour and rolling the pennies in his hand.  As he was feeling such, his mind eventually wandered to Alice and what she might be thinking about Christmas.  She never seemed to mind
that there might be so little for Christmas.
It was then that an idea occurred to him.
He arose and headed into town.
He went directly to the stationary shoppe where old Mr. Watson
tended to customers wishing for specially cut cards and notes with script his young eyes could not yet read.
He spoke to Mr. Watson with some hesitation and explained his situation. He thought if he couldn't have what he wanted, at least Alice should have some happiness on Christmas morning.
She loved to draw and Billy knowing she had some papers 
hoped to find some colored pencils for her.  Every chance she had, Alice would walk through the store gazing in awe at all the finery and colorful papers.  After divulging his narrative rapidly for fear of it being rejected, he waited to hear a response.
  With large knowing eyes, Mr. Watson stood looking at young Billy silently for a moment.
He paused then said he thought he had just the thing
for a young budding artist and showed him some pencils that were 1 penny each.
Billy bought seven of them, one black and one each of the six basic colors.  He thanked Mr. Watson as he put the pencils in his pocket and left the shoppe to return home.
Mr. Watson watched Billy as he walked down the street.
It wasn't until another customer broke his thoughts with a question that he returned to his present task.
That evening Father read from the Bible how the baby Jesus
was born in a stable and wise men came to visit then he and Mother sent Billy and Alice to bed with Christmas in their hearts.
Ever so quietly as Alice was doddering to her bed, Billy
quickly pulled the pencils from his coat pocket and dropped them in her little stocking then followed quickly after her to his own bed.  They both shut their eyes with great anticipation for the following morning.
It was still dark when their eyes did open.  Only a faint light marking the beginning of the shortest day created shadows of trees and mountains out the window.
The two raced to Mother and Father's bedroom to wake them
for it was Christmas morning.
Pulling themselves out of bed with the help of two excited children, 
Mother and Father also rose.
They entered the parlor and Father got the fire going while Mother lit a lantern since it was earlier than they usually awoke.
She put the water on as Father said, "Well, let's see what we have here." He took the stockings from the mantel and handed them to their perspective owners.
In each, there was an orange and a peppermint stick.
Oh but there was more.
Alice put in her small hand and drew out a whole handful of beautiful new pencils.  And Billy drew out three pennies.  
Mother and Father looked at each other since
mothers and fathers have a way of knowing certain things.
The children looked bewildered.
Alice appeared more shocked than pleased causing Billy to question whether or not she liked the pencils.
"Don't you like your pencils?" Billy asked with a sinking heart.
"Oh Billy, they are perfect."
"Then why don't you look happy?"
With the awkward grace of a six year old, she blurted,
"I took my papers in to town to trade them so you could get 3 more pennies and have your ten penny treat."
Billy now had the same expression as Alice.
They both looked at Mother and Father.
Father is the one who spoke, "Well, I'll be. You two seem to have read each others mind.  Maybe just as the baby Jesus couldn't yet use the gifts He was given, you aren't meant to use your gifts just yet.  They are gifts of love just the same."
Still slightly bewildered how it all worked out but happy in their hearts, the family dressed and prepared for the day.  
As they were finishing their breakfast,
there was a faint knock at the door.
Father rose to answer it, but when he did, there was nobody there.  Instead at his feet was a small bundle.  He looked around once more, but there being only a cold wind and no snow, he could not even see tracks as to which direction the package might have come from.
He took the bundle inside and placed it on the table to open it.
The family gathered watching in wonderment as Father revealed sweet potatoes, some papers, and a ten penny treat.  Now this part stumped Mother and Father for they could find no sign of who left such a gift.
But back in town, there was one wide eyed old man with a very happy and knowing heart.
And that Christmas day, 
there was great joy for both sides of the mystery. 


Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Golden People

 We've had quite the schedule for the past month or two.
It's autumn which is harvest in our neck of the woods.
Last month started off with a trip to California for my grandmother's funeral.
She actually passed last year.
Her only request was a traditional Catholic funeral.
Well, it wasn't exactly traditional due to circumstances.
Her graveside service was last year, and we only this year
11 months after her passing were able to hold her funeral.
In a way, it kinda worked out.
She was 96, only a few months shy of 97 and was ready.
Our grieving was done, and we were able to gather
and celebrate her life and cherish the time spent with family.
It was a pretty small service.
She outlived most of her peers.
My aunt had asked us each to jot down a few things we remembered
or loved about her so they could put together a eulogy.
One of the things I mentioned was
she would wipe off and reuse a paper plate, save a tablespoon of food,
and be among the first to give if someone was in need.
I love that!
She always took care of her things.
She washed her car, windows, floors, etc. and
kept things in the best condition she could.
She grew up during the depression so knew the true value of things.
She never had a lot, but made the most of what she had.
When my aunt asked if there was anything in particular I wanted,
I didn't really have an answer - just my Grammy.
My aunt is wonderful, and I can say such things.
I told her if there was something silly like Grams favorite wooden spoon
or something she used and liked, I wouldn't mind something like that.
For my birthday, she sent me the fork and knife in the photo.
It was actually my great grandmother's then my grandmother's.
Both were very right handed so the left tine is worn.
I was young when she passed, but I remember my great grandma too.
I would sit on her lap, and she would let me have a lemon drop.
We almost never had candy so it was quite a treat.
This little set was the perfect gift, more valuable to me than gold.
And, yep, I use them.
They went directly in the cupboard with the salt and pepper
so I have them handy when I need them.
(Uncle Ray & Aunt Betty - brother and sister)

They are a wonderful reminder to me to take care of things so they'll last
which is kinda funny since for the past year or two,
I've been on a mission to have things in order and good condition.
I've had two chairs repaired which wasn't cheap,
but they are both antiques and were due.
They should both now last another 100 years.
I always seem to have a mend & repair pile.
I no sooner get the bulk of it dealt with when more goes in.
I've also been trying to keep the car up, the appliance clean and in good repair, and
the little things attended to if that makes sense.
There's more to all this though.
You see, there were a couple folks at Grammy's funeral of special importance.
Well, everyone there was important, but. . .
Uncle Ray and Aunt Betty were there.
Grammy's two remaining siblings.
Uncle Ray just turned 99 and is doing pretty good.
Aunt Betty is 97 and doesn't remember very well, but otherwise okay.
Grammy was between them in age.
I don't exactly get to California very often
so it's tough telling if I will ever get to see them again just due to age.
The time spent visiting with them and the stories about them
are what makes a family and keeps those ties snug.
When someone begins a story with,
"I'll tell ya something I can't tell most normal people,"
you know you're in the right place.
I know not everyone has a close family,
but a closely knit group of friends and community can still be had.
I think that's one of the things that's been difficult for me
over the past year or so: everyone seems so distant (not just physically).
The reminder being, we need to take care of our family
just like we need to take care of our things.
We need our family - by blood or by choice.
If you do have elderly folks in your clan,
maybe pay them a visit or a call.
That chat might just be worth more than gold.
And the memory made might just last a good long time.

As we head into the holidays,
I'd like to wish all of my blog friends here
a very blessed time.
~Happy Thanksgiving~

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Of Tea & Labels

Okay dear friends.
Time for something pleasant.
I know coffee gets all the glory,
but tea really is a lovely drink.
It seems I'm always trying new teas.
My favorite tea was "lemon blossom" 
which was discontinued several years ago now.
Since then, I've stuck with mint tea but have searched
for a new favorite tea that I actually really enjoy and look forward to.
There are some pretty spendy teas out there!
Many of them don't taste like they should be spendy at all.
Well, I finally found not just a tea, but several
that I really savor.
Each one I've tried, I've loved!
I think I've tried six or seven of their teas and
have purchased six of them so far. . . 
and there's another I want to try - citrus chill.
I am not connected with them and I don't get any payment from them
for saying these things.
I just really like their teas and appreciate finding them.
Of all their teas I've tried, I would describe them
as "whole flavors."
So often it seems like there is something missing (like flavor).
These taste complete.
So like I said, I've ended up with half dozen different teas.
I've had these bailor jars for ages.
I purchased them at a dollar store long ago,
and they've come in handy.
I decided they would be good for the teas.
I think they are as pleasing to look at as to drink - 
well, almost.
Many of you might have figured out by now 
that I'm more about function than about fashion.
I like things to look nice,
but when it comes down to it, it has to function
and be as usable as ever.

Weeeeellll. . . . story time 
Some time back, I purchased some attractive
reusable labels to give as a gift.
They were actually for my mom who loves lavender.
The labels are good quality and very pretty.
My mom loved them.
Where did I get these great labels?
I knew you'd ask.
(Again not affiliated)
But wait, that's not the end of the story.
So Jes has a way of making things beautiful.
She takes those extra steps and it shows.
When I received the labels for my mom,
there were also a few extras in the form of samples.
Those teas above in the bailor jars needed labels
and they were handy so I wrote 
the name of the tea and put them on the jars.
I used a fine point permanent marker.
If I ever want to change them,
a quick spritz with hairspray wipes it clean.
Hairspray also works for getting permanent marker out of jeans.
Don't ask me how I know that.
Anyways, those little samples worked!
I like that they are a nice quality unlike the little paper stickers.
End story: I ordered some for me and some more for Christmas gifts.
My family is to the point in life that we really don't need "things."
So we try to give smaller things that can be used or consumed.
These are perfect!
I am having so much fun using them.
They are both functional and beautiful.
Pantry stocking this time of year can be wearing.
I am still working on the tail end of tomatoes
and will be dehydrating greens and cidering some apples
within the next week.
It's pretty easy, for me at least, to just get the stuff canned
or jarred and not label it (for shame!)
I know - that's bad.
These are certainly handy and if I'm sipping tea
while I'm canning or prepping foods,
it makes for a much nicer time.
I've been on the go quite a bit lately,
but I wanted to post something nice.
These are the items that came to mind first.
They are things I am grateful for~
I hope you enjoy them.


Wednesday, September 29, 2021


 It's September~
Can you believe it?
September is that nondescript month without a season.
It makes up for it with all its activities.
For me, it's a time to preserve.
The gardens are growing in full force since the Heat Dome dispersed.
I've done pretty well this year so far.
The heat made things a little wonky, but it all somehow works out.
Now I'm down to tomatoes.
I was completely out of sauce and down to 5 jars of diced.
That's only 2-3 meals of diced for us depending upon what's cookin'.
I did not photoshop this pix.  They really look like that 😂

So I am trying to get them canned up while I can.
I have reusable lids so am getting used to those on things 
that only require water bath canning just in case of operator error.

During the 2 months of triple digit weather,
anything outside wilted about as quickly as the sun rose.
By the time the weather broke, most flowers at the markets 
were marked down for quick sale.
I happened upon some of them and rescued them from their
garbage bin destiny.
They have thanked me in the most generous way.
Their blooms are beautiful and though my little area
is still a work in progress, it is a welcome spot.
And I am thankful I was able to have a few flowers
to brighten the area even if a little later than usual.
My bean wall took forever to get going but now is going crazy.
The bean blossoms are usually white and some have been, 
but we are also seeing these beautiful spice colored flowers.
I think I have 3 different kinds of beans in here due to
them being eaten in the spring.

I have potatoes to dig and will be rearranging the raised beds 
before next year.
I have another idea for next year (heehee, go ahead and shake your head.)

And lastly, I started this post the beginning of the month,
but we've been hoppin'.
Hubby had a goal of 60 gallons of salsa this year.
We have currently made 99 quarts.
I had to chime in and tell him he can't hog all the tomatoes.
I still need more sauce.
Our pepper plants are going like gang-busters also,
and he doesn't want them "to go to waste."
I told him we could freeze some poppers to use some up.

I will get this posted and hopefully be able to put together
a more reasonable post soon.
Hope each of you is enjoying the turning of the leaves.